Mark Delstanche Rows Solo from New York to London

Oceans Rowing/canoeing
After 97 days at sea, Mark Delstanche reaches London. Photo: Square Peg/Facebook

Mark Delstanche, 47, has become the first person to solo row from New York to London. He set off from Battery Park, New York on June 14, and after 97 days he crossed the finish line at Tower Bridge, London.

Since the beginning, Delstanche has faced complications. His boat Square Peg was custom-made with a flywheel-powered propeller, which broke early in his journey. He then rowed through some of the worst weather in years. Over the three months, he endured eight major storms and seven capsizes. The storms damaged most of his electronic equipment. During one capsize, he twisted his knee.

Mark Delstanche. Photo: Square Peg/Facebook

Delstanche wanted to complete the 7,000km in 100 days and he made it with three days to spare. At one point, it looked like he would be almost three weeks early, but easterly winds forced him to a standstill in Cornwall for 18 days, just 600km from the end.

During the endless wait, he began to ration his food. “I’m going slightly bonkers,” he admitted in one interview.

Waiting out the winds in Cornwall. Photo: Square Peg/Facebook

A rough start

Delstanche said that the first part of his expedition was terrible. Thick fog and storms pushed him into a “very dark place”, alone with his fears. Eventually, his outlook became more positive.

A particular highlight was a close encounter with a humpback whale. “It went two metres under the boat and came up about 30m away with a calf,” he told the BBC. “It was a wonderful experience.”

Mark Delstanche trains aboard Ocean Revival before they all set off from New York. Photo: Square Peg/Facebook

Before 2021, just 57 people had successfully rowed across the North Atlantic. Forty-eight had tried to do it solo, and only 16 succeeded. Though these select few have traversed the ocean, no one had done a New York-to-London route.

This year has been ground-breaking for North Atlantic rowers. Not only did Delstanche become the first to solo row from New York to London, in August Ocean Revival became the first crew to complete the route.


About the Author

Rebecca McPhee

Rebecca is a freelance writer and science teacher based in the UK.

She is a keen traveler and has been lucky enough to backpack her way around Africa, South America, and Asia. With a background in marine biology, she is interested in everything to do with the oceans and aims to dive and open-water swim in as many seas as possible.

Her areas of expertise include open water sports, marine wildlife and adventure travel.

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2 months ago

thanks Rebecca for the great story on mark, Cornwall’s a nice place to hang out